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Locked out players return to Kettler


Locked out players return to Kettler

There is no padlock and chain hanging from the doors thatlead to the Capitals locker room at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. But in case you were wondering, yes, those doors are lockedand will remain that way until there is a new Collective Bargaining Agreementbetween the NHLs owners and players.On a day Capitals rookies were scheduled to be on the icefor the start of a weeklong training camp, about a dozen players took the iceat Kettler on Monday at their own expense.After renting a sheet of ice at the public rate of 360 anhour, Capitals players dressed in locker rooms usually reserved for youth andadult leagues. They skated for about an hour without goalies, got dressed, signeda few autographs and loaded their bags of equipment and sticks into their cars beforedriving off and paying their daily parking fee.Welcome to life in the locked out NHL.Its certainly different, Capitals forward MarcusJohansson said as he and teammate Mattias Sjogren loaded their equipment intoJohanssons black SUV. Were used to having everything here and now we dont. But I think everyone knows what theyre doing. Well justkeep going like this until we know what happens.Johansson said hell remain in his apartment for theremainder of this week, then decide on whether he will go back to Sweden. He saidthe Swedish Elite League is still insisting that NHL players sign year-longcontracts but that the second tier league in Sweden is willing to sign game-by-gamecontracts that allow players to return to the NHL in the event of a settlement.Right now Im not going to play anywhere else, Johanssonsaid. Ill see what happens, take it day-by-day and figure it out. Its notsomething you like. Thats the way it is and well go with it.Sjogren, who has one year remaining on his contract with theCaps, said hell skate at Kettler for the remainder of the week, then report toHershey, where several Bears have begun skating in preparation for their Sept.30 start of training camp. Goaltender Sergey Kostenko said he plans on doingthe same.Johansson said that as much as hed like to be preparing forhis third season in the NHL, the players union is willing to wait as long asnecessary to have what they believe is a fair agreement.Everybody loves the game, Johansson said. You want toplay hockey, but were not just going to start playing because we have to. As unionchief Don Fehr says, we have to find a good agreement to play under and if wedont were not going to play.

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Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?


Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

We are down to the home stretch. Only 10 games remain in the Capitals' regular season. Those 10 games will ultimately decide if the Caps finish in first place in the Metropolitan Division and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington currently sits in first place in the division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Of those 10 remaining games, only three come against teams currently in playoff position. The most critical of these comes on April 1 when the Caps travel to Pittsburgh in a game that could ultimately decide the division.

The Caps still hold a narrow lead in the standings, but where do they stand in the rankings? See this week's updated NHL Power Rankings here.